Category Archives: Events

Don’t Touch the Money


Coming in January 2021 is our first official Wintersession https://winter.princeton.edu/, a two-week experience for Princeton University community members to “experiment and explore through unexpected, active and intriguing non-graded learning and growth opportunities. We seek to use the skills and talents of our whole community: undergraduate students, graduate students, staff and faculty can participate as teachers, learners or both.”

The Graphic Arts Collection will be offering a session entitled “Don’t Touch the Money,” in response to the number of businesses no longer allowing us to pay for goods with coins or paper money, in an attempt to limit the spread of Covid 19. Together, we will compare our current experiences with a time in the 19th and early 20th centuries when it was also not acceptable to received your change directly from the hand of a clerk but instead, any cash returned to the customer would be given in a small, engraved envelope known as a “change packet.”

 

Princeton holds one of the best collections of change packets in the country, which will allow us to investigate the practices of early department stores and in particular, their advertising campaigns using these elaborately decorated little envelopes like miniature business cards to promote teas, biscuits, jellies, and even upcoming events.

Various devices would carry the sales slip and payment from a particular store counter to the mezzanine or back room where a staff of young women quickly noted the sale and returned the receipt with the customer’s change in that week’s envelope. This not only meant that the sales staff did not need to know arithmetic but it also protected the individual counters from theft. Here’s a quick peek at the pulleys and wires leading up to the cashier’s booth in Charlie Chaplin’s The Floorwalker (1916):

“In large retail stores where a great variety of goods are sold in one building, it has been found necessary to employ children to carry the money to the cashier and to take the goods to the packing and delivery departments. To get rid of the expense and inconvenience of having so many “cash” boys and girls in such stores, a number of inventions have been brought out, designed to act as substitutes. The most simple of these is a light iron rail suspended from the ceiling of the store over the counters. On this rail run small two-wheeled cars, each intended to carry a receptacle for money or parcels, or both. The salesman, on receiving the money for the goods, puts it in a car on the rail overhead, and it rolls by gravity down the rail to the cashier’s desk…”—“Shop Conveniences,” The Century 24 (October 1882): 956-58

Here’s a snippet with Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle causing trouble with the cash transport system in The Butcher Boy (1917):

 

Some “cash transport systems” continued into the 21st century. Check out this Canadian store:

Joyners store in Moose Jaw, SK, Canada had a cash cable system used since 1915 called the Lamson Cash Carrier System. You can watch the whole video and take a tour of the system including this behind the scenes look. Sadly the system was destroyed when a fire ravaged the building in 2004.

In the book Darkness Visible, William Golding wrote:

“Frankley’s was an ironmonger’s of character. After the convulsion of the First World War the place grew a spider’s web of wires along which money trundled in small, wooden jars. For people of all ages, from babies to pensioners, this was entrancing. Some assistant would fire the jar – clang! – from his counter and when the flying jar reached the till it would ring a bell – Dong! So the cashier would reach up, unscrew the jar, take out the money and inspect the bill, put in the change and fire the jar back – Clang! … Clang! All this took a great deal of time but was full of interest, like playing with model trains. But the use of the overhead railway had done two things. First it had accustomed the staff to moderate stillness and tranquility; and second, it had so habituated them to the overhead method of money sending that when one of these ancient gentlemen was offered a banknote he immediately gestured upwards with it as if to examine the watermark.”

 

Near the end of the 19th century, dealers adjusted their prices to promote lower sounding numbers, using 99 cents rather than rounding up. The one cent change could be given in a penny or in pins or in low cost booklets, called a “farthing novelette.” These were so cheaply produced that the store would always come out ahead and make more money than giving out exact change. The back page was also another good opportunity for advertising.


 

Join us on January 18 for a fun look at the past and present, as we learn to better understand our current situation as it relates to what went before and what is to come in the future. Biscuits optional!!

 

 

Anaïs Nin’s first American Publisher

When Anaïs Nin bought a printing press and set up shop in Greenwich Village, Jimmy Cooney made a number of trips into town to give her printing lessons and publishing advice. Who was he?


In the 1930s, Blanche and James Cooney moved “on the Maverick,” an artists’ colony outside Woodstock, NY, founded by Hervey White in 1905. They had no telephone or indoor plumbing but acquired a full stockpile of metal type and a small hand press. Notices were placed in The New York Times Sunday book review section and the Herald Tribune asking for manuscripts to be published in a new magazine. “We would print it ourselves; it would be the rallying point, through it we would spread the word of a community of separate dwellings and shared land and stock and tools; …We would publish writers whose unpopular or seditious views would have no chance in the commercial press.” It would be called The Phoenix, in honor of D.H. Lawrence.

Henry Miller wrote from Paris that both he and his friend Anaïs Nin would send material, happy that someone welcomed their provocative stories. Each was published in The Phoenix several times before they were forced to leave Paris for New York City.

As soon as Anaïs was settled, she and her husband Hugh Guiler (Hugo) made a pilgrimage to meet the Cooneys and the press that was not afraid to publish her work. Anaïs’s famous diaries do not mention of this trip, probably because Hugo asked her not to write about him and she agreed. However, the visit is chronicled in Blanche Cooney’s autobiography:

“In 1940, on her return from Europe, Anaïs came to Woodstock with her husband Hugh Guiler to stay with us for a few days. She wanted to meet her first American publisher, we wanted to meet the fabled Etre Étoilique [Miller’s 1937 short story about Anaïs]. A great pleasure to look at, she moved like the dancer she was, a fluid supple line in a dress of purple wool. . . Hugo—Anaïs called him Hugo and he said we were also to call him Hugo—was the banker, an international banker. A tall lean Scotsman, gentle, handsome, he deferred to Anaïs, his adored one, his indulged one. No whim, no quirk, no passion, or bizarre appetite would he deny her, Yes to a houseboat on the Seine, Yes to the Miller connection, to a fling with a woman, an English poet, a Peruvian Indian, Yes….

Hugo, Anaïs said, will be studying engraving with Stanley Hayter at the New School. Hugo had a definite talent; he will do the covers and illustrations for her books, she said; they will find a printer and publish privately. “my text and Hugo’s decorations.” Anaïs smiled into Hugo’s eyes with intimate secret reference. The visit went well, no explosions, no denunciations . . . .”–Blanche Cooney, In My Own Sweet Time (Ohio: Swallow Press, 1993). Z473 .C755 1993

The Phoenix ([Haydenville, Mass.: Morning Star Press, 1938-1984.]). Vol. 1, no. 1 (Mar./May 1938)-v. 9, no. 3 & 4 (1984). AP2 .P464

Natashia Troubetskoia, Anaïs Nin, ca. 1932. Oil on canvas. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Want to know more? Please join us at 2:00 p.m. on September 25, 2020 for the fifth in our series of webinars highlighting the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton University. Register for free here: https://libcal.princeton.edu/event/6949414

 

The history of the Maverick: https://player.vimeo.com/video/11435652

Picking Up a Book on Independent Bookstore Day

Independent Bookstore Day has been moved to August 29, 2020, a good excuse to visit Lit Bar in the South Bronx. But nothing is easy this year. http://www.indiebookstoreday.com/
Walking would be daunting, with no ferry operating

Weather was dangerousTransportation difficult to decipher, but it was worth the trip

 

 

Success!

The Books and Prints of Anaïs Nin and her Gemor Press

Please join us at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, September 25, 2020, for the fifth in our series of live webinars highlighting material in the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton University Library. Recently we acquired most of the rare letterpress editions printed by Anaïs Nin (French-Cuban, 1903-1977). Best known for her diaries, Nin also wrote fiction with themes of history, feminism and multiculturalism. Together with Gonzalo More, one of her many lovers, Nin ran a private printing press in Greenwich Village where she taught herself to set type, stood for hours pumping a treadle press, and distributed her books with the help of Frances Steloff at Gotham Book Mart. Many were illustrated with original etchings by her husband, Hugh Parker Guiler, a banker who used the pseudonym Ian Hugo so his colleagues would not discover he was also an artist.

They called the imprint Gemor Press (pronounced G. More) after Gonzalo, although it was Anaïs who raised the money and did most of the physical work. Located first on MacDougal Street and later at 17 East 13th Street where the small building she rented still stands. After a close look at the books and prints, we are fortunate to be joined by Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who will update us on their efforts to landmark this building, as well as other Village homes and studios of writers we all know and love.

This session is free and open to all. To register: click here

Here is the complete series of past and future webinars highlighting material in Princeton’s Graphic Arts Collection

New Theories on the Oldest American Woodcut. May 22, 2020
To celebrate the 350th anniversary of the oldest surviving print from Colonial America, we assembled all five extent copies of the portrait of the Reverend Richard Mather (1596-1669) by or after John Foster. Julie Mellby was joined by Caroline Duroselle-Melish, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints and Associate Librarian for Collection Care and Development, Folger Shakespeare Library.

Thomas Eakins and the Making of Walt Whitman’s Death Mask. June 26, 2020
This program was chosen specifically for June, LGBTQ pride month and this year, the 50th anniversary of the first Gay Pride march. Both Walt Whitman and Thomas Eakins, in their own way, broke down barriers around sex, sexuality, and the celebration of the human body. Presented by Julie Mellby, Graphic Arts Curator, and Karl Kusserow, John Wilmerding Curator of American Art, Princeton University Art Museum.

Afrofuturism: The Graphics of Octavia E. Butler. July 31, 2020
This month focused on the speculative fiction, also called Afrofuturism, of author Octavia E. Butler. Julie Mellby was joined by Damian Duffy and John Jennings, the award winning team who produced the graphic novel adaptations of Parable of the Sower and Kindred.

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. August 26, 2020
The fourth in our series celebrated the centenary of the 19th amendment on Women’s Equality Day. Julie Mellby was joined by Lauren Santangelo, author of Suffrage and the City and lecturer in Princeton University’s Writing Program, along with Sara Howard, Librarian for Gender & Sexuality Studies and Student Engagement within Scholarly Collections and Research Services at Princeton University Library.

The Books and Prints of Anaïs Nin and her Gemor Press. September 25, 2020
For the fifth in our series we highlight the recently acquired letterpress editions printed by Anaïs Nin (French-Cuban, 1903-1977). Together with Gonzalo More, Nin ran a private printing press in Greenwich Village where she printed and published fine press books, distributed with the help of Frances Steloff at Gotham Book Mart. Julie Mellby will be joined by Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who will talk about efforts to landmark the Gemor Press building and other Village homes and studios of writers we all know and love.

 

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage

Please join us at 10:00 am EDT on August 26, 2020, for the fourth in our series of free webinar’s highlighting material in Princeton University’s Special Collections, when we will celebrate the centenary of the 19th amendment on Women’s Equality Day. The date is chosen because that was the day the amendment was signed and sealed by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby, prohibiting both states and the federal government from denying the right to vote on the basis of sex.

We are honored to have Lauren Santangelo, author of Suffrage and the City: New York Women Battle for the Ballot, with us to talk about her book along with Sara Howard, Librarian for Gender and Sexuality Studies and Student Engagement and Julie Mellby, Graphic Arts Curator. A noted American historian, Santangelo is a Lecturer at Princeton University where she teaches in the Writing Program. As one critic wrote, “Suffrage and the City is one more jewel in the crown of informative writing on the suffrage movement. Santangelo offers fresh and interesting perspectives in her focus on urban spaces, covering oft-tread ground with a bright new analysis. Her book sets a high standard for future scholars who focus on women’s rights, organizations, and activism, and it reminds us how fascinating the topics remain.”

Throughout the conversation we will be playing the 1908 suffragette board game Pank-A-Squith! Printed as a fund raiser for the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) in Britain, Pank-a-Squith was named after the suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst and Herbert Asquith, British Prime Minister from 1908 to 1916 and a strong opponent of women’s suffrage. While the game is British, the focus of our talk will be the American anniversary and resources available in the Princeton University Library.

As always, this one hour session is free and open to the public but you need to register to get the invitation link: https://princeton.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_u9aiUlNxTtuj4dRTjRlrFA

 

Afrofuturism: The Graphics of Octavia E. Butler

Please join us for the latest in our series of live webinars highlighting Special Collections at Princeton University Library. This month focuses on speculative fiction, also called Afrofuturism, of Octavia E. Butler.

January 2020 brought the release of the much anticipated Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia E. Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy and illustrator John Jennings, the follow-up to the no.1 New York Times bestseller Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by the same award-winning team. Butler’s groundbreaking dystopian novel offers a searing vision of America’s future. Set in the year 2024, Parable presents a country marred by unattended environmental and economic crises that lead to social chaos. Residents shelter indoors, warned against venturing outside into a world eerily similar to our contemporary COVID-19 existence.

Adapting Parable and Kindred to a graphic novel format is an astounding achievement and we are fortunate to have both Damian Duffy and John Jennings with us to discuss how they accomplished it. Their adaptations capture the energy and raw emotion of Butler’s prose with visual acrobatics and succinct verbal interchanges. Join this lively discussion with Graphic Arts Curator Julie Mellby, focusing on their graphic adaptations of classic literature, along with a look at their future projects.

REGISTER HERE

Date: Friday, July 31, 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT
Location: Virtual

 

Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) was a renowned African-American author who was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work.

Damian Duffy is a cartoonist, scholar, writer, and teacher. He holds a MS and PhD in library and information sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is on faculty.

John Jennings is the newly appointed director of Megascope, Abrams ComicArt’s graphic imprint as well as a professor of media and cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside.

Klan shocked to find Borglum is Catholic; Catholics shocked to find his angels are female

 

Not long after John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum (1867-1941, famous for carving Mount Rushmore) finished sculpting dozens of gargoyles for Princeton University’s Class of 1879 Hall at the request of his friend Woodrow Wilson, Borglum was commissioned to sculpt a series of angels for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. As the project neared completion, Catholic officials were surprised to find many of his angels were female. This led to a heated public debate over the gender of angels, repeated in newspaper across the country.

Borglum was told to replace the female angels. An impassioned dialogue followed, ending with the artist smashing the molds for several of the figures.  “I felt like a murderer,” he confessed afterward, “but that was the only thing to do under the circumstances.” –“The Sex of Angels,” Current Opinion, Volume 39 (1905). Eventually Borglum sculpted new molds and then, publicly declared they were poorly cast and did not want his name connected with them.

 

 

 

The controversy led to enormous publicity, national fame for the sculptor, and in 1910, Woodrow Wilson presented Borglum with an honorary master’s degree for service to the University. His next major commission was to carve relief statues of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis on the Stone Mountain, hired by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Originally the frieze was to include an altar to the Ku Klux Klan but this plan was later dropped (See the Stone Mountain Sculpture and Memorial Hall as originally projected on the left).

In 1925, when a dispute arose between Borglum and the managing association. the sculptor once again smashed the models he had completed. He quickly moved on to begin the carving of the famous Mount Rushmore quartet.

For more, read: “The Sordid History of Mount Rushmore: The sculptor behind the American landmark had some unseemly ties to white supremacy groups” by Matthew Shaer in Smithsonian Magazine October 2016. Also recommended: Debra McKinney, “Stone Mountain: A Monumental Dilemma: Some see the monument as “the largest shrine to white supremacy in the history of the world.” Intelligence Report, Southern Poverty Law Center, Spring 2018. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2018/stone-mountain-monumental-dilemma

In 1924, the National Alumni Committee of Princeton donated $1,000 to support the project.

“In the early going,” writes John Taliaferro, “the Klan contributed money directly to the Stone Mountain Confederate Monumental Association, a number of whose members were active Klansmen. While there seems to be no extant proof that Borglum officially joined the Klan himself—that he took the secret oath or donned a hooded robe—he nonetheless became deeply involved in Klan politics, as they related to Stone Mountain and on a national scale as well. He attended Klan rallies, served on Klan committees, and endeavored to play peacemaker in several Klan leadership disputes (with mixed results).

… The Kloran, the Klan’s book of rules, demanded that members be native born, white, male, and Gentile. And after World War I, the Klan’s Kreed became increasingly white supremacist, anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-labor, anti-alien.” — John Taliaferro, Great White Fathers: The Story of the Obsessive Quest to Create Mount Rushmore (2007).

 

It is perhaps ironic that a scandal emerged within the Klan leadership when they found out Borglum was a Catholic.

 

 

Celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month: Whitman and Eakins


At 2:00 p.m. on Friday, June 26, 2020, you are invited to join the second live webinar highlighting Special Collections at Firestone Library, Princeton University. Register here. The topic, “Thomas Eakins and the Making of Walt Whitman’s Death Mask,” was chosen specifically for June, LGBTQ pride month and this year, the 50 anniversary of the first march. Both Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), in their own way, broke down barriers around sex, sexuality, and the celebration of the human body, working in staunch opposition to the genteel status quo of the 19th century. Their friendship did not begin until the last five years of Whitman’s life but once they met, Eakins became a frequent guest at the poet’s Camden, New Jersey, home where Whitman was chiefly confined.

Their lives were punctuated by scandal and national disgrace, followed by even worse, periods of neglect. Just as Whitman faced rejection by publishers and critics, Eakins endured equal censure from curators and collectors. Yet each found a way to work independent of institutional patronage and pursue their own search for truth. Whitman wrote, “I never knew of but one artist, and that’s Tom Eakins, who could resist the temptation to see what they think ought to be rather than what is.”

For his part, Eakins painted a self-portrait that echoes the pose, the hue, and the sentiment in the portrait he painted of Whitman, visually coupling their images for eternity.

. . . Several months before Whitman’s death, Eakins and his partner went to Camden to practice on Whitman himself, casting his right hand in plaster. They probably left supplies in his home, anticipating what would soon be necessary. On March 26, 1892, Eakins and Sam Murray were notified of the poet’s death and early the next morning crossed the Delaware River to his house.

Working slowly and carefully over three hours, they gently oiled Whitman’s face and body, thickly coating his beard and eyebrows so they wouldn’t stick to the plaster. His ears, brows, and other features would be sculpted later and added to various plaster casts. Molds were made of the front and back of the head along with Whitman’s shoulders so a complete bust could be formed.

There is more to the story. Please join us. For a zoom address, just register here. We are holding this early in the afternoon so as not to distract from protests or demonstrations later in the day. Thanks.

Thomas Eakins and the Making of Walt Whitman’s Death Mask


“Thomas Eakins and the Making of Walt Whitman’s Death Mask,” will be the second in a series of live webinars highlighting Special Collections in Firestone Library, Princeton University. Please join Julie Mellby, Graphic Arts Curator, and Karl Kusserow, John Wilmerding Curator of American Art, at 2:00 on Friday, June 26, 2020, as we focus on two American pioneers in art and literature. The event is free and open to all, but please register here for the zoom invitation: Register

During the last five years of Walt Whitman’s life, Thomas Eakins was a frequent guest at the poet’s Camden, New Jersey, home where Whitman agreed to sit for an oil portrait. Eakins’ protégé Samuel Murray often joined them, photographing Whitman in preparation for a sculpted bust. On the day Whitman died, March 26, 1892, Eakins and Murray gathered all the necessary supplies to cast his face in plaster and early the next morning crossed the Delaware River, walking the final blocks to 330 Mickle Street. At least three death masks survive from the matrix they produced that day, one preserved at the Princeton University Library.

Thomas Eakins’ studio at 1330 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, to Walt Whitman’s house, 330 Mickle Blvd., Camden, New Jersey

That Whitman and Eakins were similar in temperament and talent is well documented. Their lives intertwined not only in the creation of American masterworks, but in the critical scorn and institutional censor they were each forced to endure throughout their careers. Each found a way to work independent of academia, sharing a common bond in their eternal search for truth within their work.

Samuel Murray, Thomas Eakins and William O’Donovan in Eakins’s Chestnut Street Studio

Here is a timeline merging the two careers:

1855: Whitman publishes the first edition of Leaves of Grass, containing twelve poems.
1856: Fowler & Wells, phrenologists, print and distribute the second edition of Leaves of Grass.
1865: While in Washington, Whitman is discharged from his position by Secretary James Harlan, supposedly for writing obscene poetry.
1865: Eakins studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), also attending lectures in anatomy and participating in dissections at Jefferson Medical College.
1873: Whitman suffers a paralytic stroke and moves in with his brother George in Camden, New Jersey.
1875: Eakins paints The Gross Clinic. Public and critical response is hostile.
1876: The Gross Clinic is rejected from the art exhibition at the Centennial Exposition.
1878: Alumni of Jefferson University scraped together $200 to buy the painting.
1882: Osgood withdraws his edition of Leaves of Grass on complaint of Boston District Attorney and the edition is reprinted in Philadelphia, along with Specimen Days. News of the censure leads to a boom in sales.
1884: Whitman uses the royalties to buy a house at 328 Mickle Street in Camden.
1885: Eakins paints The Swimming Hole.
1886: Eakins caused a scandal by lifting the loincloth of a male model in front of female students and is forced to resign as an instructor from the PAFA. He forms the Art Students’ League of Philadelphia but eventually stops teaching.
1887: Whitman lectures to hundreds in New York City at Madison Square Theater. Eakins is ostracized from Philadelphia society and spends the summer on a ‘rest cure’ at a ranch in the Dakota Badlands.
1888: Eakins is taken to Camden to meet Whitman by his friend Talcott Williams. Whitman finds the artist’s lack of social graces refreshing and offers to sit for him. “Mr. Eakins, the portrait painter, of Philadelphia; is going to have a whack at me.” Later that year, Whitman suffers another paralytic stroke followed by severe illness.
1889: Eakins paints The Agnew Clinic.
1889: The artist attends Whitman’s 70th birthday party and describes painting the poet, “I began in the usual way, but soon found that the ordinary methods wouldn’t do,—that technique, rules and traditions would have to be thrown aside; that, before all else, he was to be treated as a man.”
1890: Whitman pays $4,000 to have a tomb built for himself in Harleigh Cemetery, Camden.
1892: Whitman dies at 6:43 p.m. on March 27. The following morning, Thomas Eakins and his protégé Samuel Murray go to Camden to make a cast of Whitman’s face and left hand. Whitman’s brain is removed and sent to the American Anthropometric Society.
1895: Murray and Eakins use Whitman’s mask to carve Moses, one of ten biblical prophets commissioned for the Witherspoon building in Philadelphia.

The Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks, Princeton University

The New York Times, May 24, 2020

In case you do not get The New York Times or didn’t see today’s paper, here is the front page. Access this page as a high-resolution PDF: VIEW PDF. This file is keyword searchable to find individuals, occupations, and locations. To order a high-quality reprint of this page, click here.

“Numbers alone cannot possibly measure the impact of the coronavirus on America, whether it is the number of patients treated, jobs interrupted or lives cut short. As the country nears a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths attributed to the virus, The New York Times scoured obituaries and death notices of the victims. The 1,000 people here reflect just 1 percent of the toll. None were mere numbers.”